A team led by neuroscientists from Cedars-Sinai has been awarded a five-year, $8 million research grant that is expected to reveal unprecedented detail of how memories are formed, retrieved and used for decisions, the hospital announced Tuesday.
“With this critical grant, we hope to gain a circuit-level understanding of human memory,” said Ueli Rutishauser, who is the Board of Governors Chair in Neurosciences and interim director of the Center for Neural Science and Medicine at Cedars-Sinai. “With this knowledge, we hope to develop new treatments for the devastating effects of memory disorders.”
Researchers said they will use neuronal recordings from individual cells in patients with epilepsy who will undergo a surgical procedure in which electrodes are implanted in their brains, and then undergo monitoring to localize their seizures.
The research will allow scientists to measure the activity of individual neurons, with patients performing a series of memory tests while the neuronal activity is simultaneously recorded and allowing scientists to correlate brain activity with behavior.
“This work is unusually innovative because we record single-neuron firings in multiple areas in humans while they are performing memory tasks,” said Dr. Adam Mamelak, a professor of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai and co-principal investigator of the grant. “In conjunction with these efforts, we will also develop new methods for noninvasive localization of implanted electrodes and electrical stimulation.”
Mamelak noted that researchers will directly test longstanding theoretical predictions on the role of evidence accumulation in memory retrieval.
The project, funded through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, builds on past research and funding under the initiative, in which Rutishauser and his team were awarded a three-year, $3.5 million exploratory grant.
The multi-disciplinary team led by Cedars-Sinai includes investigators from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, UC Santa Barbara, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, the University Health Network in Toronto and the University of Colorado, Denver.